WASHINGTON — In an election year where nothing seems certain, Americans are frank about their top concession at the ballpark — the hot dog.
According to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council’s 2012 report on major league ballparks, Americans will consume 20.5 million hot dogs this season, enough to round the bases 28,489 times, and if laid end to end would stretch from the new Marlins Ballpark in Miami to Coors Field in Denver.
In addition, the council projects ballparks will sell 5.2 million sausages this year.
“Like turkey on Thanksgiving, you simply have to have a dog at the game,” said Dan Smith, president, Legends Hospitality, hot dog and sausage provider to the Yankees.
“From a fan’s perspective they are relatively inexpensive, easy to consume in your seat, and are the ultimate stadium comfort food. From a concessionaire point of view they are easy to prepare, easy to serve, and enable us to feed the masses at a very rapid rate.”
The 2012 survey features a new top dog. Despite losing the past two World Series, the Texas Rangers are projected to serve 1.6 million hot dogs over the course of the 2012 season at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, jumping up from fourth place in 2011.
The Rangers signature dog is a traditional hot dog from Fort Worth’s Classic Foods, but their newest offering is already generating headlines: the “Boomstick” is a two-foot-long, one pound Coney Island-style wiener that will be topped with shredded cheese, chili and sauteed onions and the bun will be “exotic bread flown in from France.”
Not to be outdone, second place in this year’s survey is a tie between two other perennial World Series contenders. Recent on-field success has propelled Citizen’s Bank Park, home of the Philadelphia Phillies up from third in 2011, tied with annual favorite Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox. The Council projects that both stadiums will serve 1.5 million hot dogs over the course of the 2012 season.
The two ballparks’ signature dogs couldn’t be more different with the Red Sox serving up the traditional Fenway Frank, a steamed hot dog topped with brown mustard and relish in a New England style bun, while the Phillies’ South Philly Dog is topped with broccoli rabe, roasted peppers and sharp provolone on a crusty Italian roll.
Dodger Stadium and its infamous Dodger Dogs fell from last year’s top spot and comes in fourth in this year’s survey.
New York’s Yankee Stadium, offering Nathan’s Famous dogs grilled and topped with sauerkraut and onions in sauce rounds out the top five.
Miller Park in Milwaukee maintains its annual sausage dominance, projected to sell 900,000 sausages this season, many of those their signature Klement’s Bratwurst with sauerkraut and warm secret stadium sauce.
“The variety of hot dogs and sausages offered at stadiums this year truly stands out,” said National Hot Dog and Sausage Council spokesman Eric Mittenthal. “There are so many unique options, fans can just go to the game for the hot dogs and skip the baseball if they want.”
Traditionalists can still get their dog of choice, but foodies can sample everything from pulled pork to mini potato pierogies on their dogs. Highlights include:
Food Network Hot Dog Bars: These topping bars will make their debut in Cincinnati, Cleveland, St. Louis and Texas featuring a quarter pound hot dog served on a potato roll. Fans can choose from basic toppings such as mustard, relish and sauerkraut, but can also add bacon chunks, corn chips and other unique toppings. All together there are 500 million total topping combinations available.
Cali Dog: Anaheim is welcoming their two major offseason acquisitions, Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson with two different Cali Dogs, each wrapped in a flour tortilla and deep fried. The North will be topped with housemade chili and cheddar cheese while the South will be topped with pico di gallo, shredded lettuce and an avocado sour cream.
Polish Hill Dog: The Pirates are celebrating Pittsburgh’s polish heritage with the Polish Hill Dog, an all beef footlong grilled and topped with mini potato pierogies, coleslaw and homemade onion straws served on a potato roll. The Pirates also offer a Pulled Pork Pierogi Stacker Dog and a Reuben Dog.
St. Louis BBQ Bacon Wrapped Dog: The Cardinals offer a Jumbo Hunter Dog wrapped with bacon served on a fresh Fazio’s bun with baked beans, a dill pickle slice and topped with pico de gallo, Dijon aioli, sweet barbecue, and tobacco onions.
Sobe Hot Dog: Along with a new name and a new stadium, the Miami Marlins will debut a new hog dog. The Sobe Hot Dog is an all beef grilled dog with mango slaw, toasted split top bun with chipotle mayo and potato sticks.
Fans won’t even have to get out of their seats to get one. The Marlins will allow fans to use MLB’s “At Bat” app on their smartphones to order food from one of seven concessions, pay from their seat and find out when it will be ready at the closest location.
Several teams will offer hot dog specials this season. Whether its Dollar Dog Mondays for the first 20,000 hot dogs at Target Field in Minnesota, $1 hot dog day at Dodger Stadium for Memorial Day, or a Nats Pack in Washington that comes with chips and a drink, fans can still get their favorite stadium food on a budget.